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Data Scientist Drew Conway tackles the problem of deciding which programming languages are the most popular in an interesting way: by comparing the number of projects tagged in GitHub with each language, and the number of questions in StackOverflow about the language. The former is a measure of how often a language is used (though, mainly for open source projects); the latter is a measure of how many programmers are asking questions about it.

Here at Revolution Analytics, we're proud to have been a part of fostering local user groups for R users around the world. Last year we sponsored more than 40 groups, with representation from every continent around the world. And we're thrilled to see the continued growth in user groups: this time last year there about 50 R user groups; now, there's nearly 100.

In case you missed them, here are some articles from September of particular interest to R users.

You can now browse the R-devel sources and changelogs at GitHub.

R is used to create a 3-D animation of the Antarctic ice cap.

On our recent trip to Australia, we had some excellent stargazing opportunities from the south coast of Kangaroo Island. With dark skies and clear air, as we looked south towards Antarctica the Milky Way and both Magellanic Clouds were in full, glorious, naked-eye view. And it was certainly a comfort to be able to see the Southern Cross again. Sadly, my attempts at astral photography were a failure (I was trying to get some star trails shots, but my old Nikon DSLR will only do up to 30-second exposures without the remote, which I of course forgot).

As we noted last month, the new Themes feature in ggplot2 helps you customize the design of R charts to your liking. Now, R user Jeffrey Arnold has built on this feature to create standardized themes to make R graphics looks like those from major publications and other software systems. You can use his ggthemes package to make your charts look like those in The Economist:

The RHadoop project, the open-source project supported by Revolution Analytics to integrate R and Hadoop, continues to evolve. Now available is version 2 of the rmr package, which makes it possible for R programmers to write map-reduce tasks in the R language, and have them run within the Hadoop cluster. This update is the "simplest and fastest rmr yet", according to lead developer Antonio Piccolboni.

Jeffrey Breen (the man behind the Twitter airline sentiment analysis example) recently posted a collection of slides with some great tips for accessing data from R.

The next minor update to R — version 2.15.2 "Trick or Treat" — will be released on October 26, R-core member Peter Dalgaard announced today. You can find the planned updates in the current NEWS file (scroll down to the section 'CHANGES IN R VERSION 2.15.1 patched'; the changes at the top of the file are planned for the next major release).

The changes will include:

The Maker Movement has led to the production of open-source 3-D printers and other manufacturing machines that allow hobbyists to design, create and produce real-world objects affordably.

How can this slowly moving ball bearing translate into enough power to launch the can from the table?